Batman/Deathblow: After The Fire

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I really thought I was going to like this a lot more than I did. Batman/Deathblow: After The Fire is a collaboration of sorts between Batman and Deathblow in Gotham City. There is a caveat: the two characters never encounter each other and writer Brian Azzarello did an awesome job with that plot twist.

The premise is fairly simple. Ten years ago, Deathblow and another government black ops soldier named Scott Floyd failed to stop a crime syndicate that employed a pyrotechnic hitman. At the current time, Floyd becomes a friend of Bruce Wayne and is murdered by this fiery villain. Bruce/Batman are off to avenge his death and bringing this criminal to justice. The story goes back and forth between Batman’s present and Floyd’s past as they both race to stop this new mysterious villain.

Batman/Deathblow never delivers that big Batman and Deathblow encounter that I assumed would happen, so in that sense the book doesn’t deliver. Instead, there is a slow burning mystery, which you would expect from an Azzarello written Batman. It is certainly not the most exciting or well written story in Azzarello’s bibliography, but if you are a fan of his you will enjoy this.

Art in this was by Lee Bermejo, who later went on to collaborate with Azzarello on the Luthor and Joker books. It’s dark and moody, thanks to Tim Bradstreet’s inking and an extremely muted color palette.

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Wonder Woman Volume 1: Blood

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Over the holiday I decided to give the new Wonder Woman series a shot and read Wonder Woman Volume 1: Blood to check out the New 52’s Diana. So how was it?

I really didn’t know what to expect with Brian Azzarello writing. I enjoyed a lot of his work, especially 100 Bullets, and seem to have him pigeonholed in my mind as being more of a crime comics writer. So I was doubly surprised to see him not only writing a Wonder Woman book but one that wound up being very mythology based.

The plot was a little confusing for me at first, but it reads more like a family soap opera based in Greek mythology. Zeus rules this family and is a bit of a man whore; he’s had countless children with random gods, mortals and demigods. The latest woman to carry a Zeus baby is a Virginian named Zola, who is wanted dead by Zeus’ wife Hera and son Apollo. Wonder Woman gets swept up into this after she herself finds out her true origin; she wasn’t made from clay but is the product of a one night stand between her mother Hippolyta and Zeus! It’s up to her and her half-god brother Hermes to protect Zola and the unborn child. Along the way she  also has to confront her mother–and the rest of the Amazonians–about her true parentage.

Reading this, it felt like there was a lot going on and took a few re-reads to pick up on everything. It was very well written, but I just had too hard of a time getting it to click. On the art side, Cliff Chiang’s art is always amazing and I loved every page.

I’m going to give this book a thumbs up, even though it wasn’t for me. If you like mythology or intertwining family drama, this is the book for you.

Spider-Man’s Tangled Web #14

Who better to write a comic about Spider-Man’s experiences as a professional wrestler than an actual one? 100 Bullets creator Brian Azzarello teamed up with Scott Levy (better known as wrestling veteran Raven) on Spider-Man’s Tangled Web #14.

Tangled Web was an anthology series that was about Spidey but didn’t necessarily feature the wall crawler. Remember how Spider-Man made his public debut winning money at a professional wrestling show? This issue tells the sad story of Crusher Hogan, the wrestler that lost $10,000 in a challenge against Spider-Man.

Hogan is a really sympathetic, down on his luck character. Against his (and his wife’s) better judgment, he still works for a small-time wrestling promoter out of a sense of loyalty. How loyal? He’s willing to mortgage his small house in an effort to bankroll a big show, highlighted by the main event of him putting up $10,000 in an open challenge to anyone in the audience.

By the end of the book you really empathize with Hogan and his attempt at saving the business. Unfortunately, the book ends with a young masked Peter Parker entering the ring and we know that what happens from that point.

Azzarello and Levy do a great job with making Hogan a sympathetic protagonist. He really wants to do right by everyone, and unfortunately we’re reminded that nice people don’t always finish first.